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Prisoners held by U.S. from different nations, backgrounds

NEAR NAJAF, Iraq—A member of the Iraqi Parliament, who dressed up like his wife to sneak from his home and surrender to Americans, arrived at a temporary prisoner of war camp here Tuesday.

U.S. officers at the camp said the man, whose name they refused to release, was looking for favorable treatment in return for cooperating with Western forces, who are fast taking control of the country.

The Iraqi politician, believed to be a member of the ruling Baath Party, was segregated from other prisoners in the camp. For a short time Tuesday night, he watched part of the latest Austin Powers movie on a screen next to the concertina wire pens where prisoners are being held.

The prisoners come in many types. Military police in charge of the detention center had processed two Sudanese men who were captured near Karbala. They were toting Kalashnikov assault rifles but only, they said, to guard a farm.

Another foreigner, from Syria, was captured near Karbala. He said he'd come to study Shiite Muslim culture in Iraq.

"He said he came to the country 15 days ago," said Soud al Otaibi, a Kuwaiti interpreter who's working with the U.S. Army. "That's after the war started. What kind of researcher comes here to do that during the war? It's a stupid answer."

A second Syrian POW captured near Karbala told al Otaibi he had traveled to Iraq to visit Shiite Muslim shrines in Najaf.

"But he was a Sunni (Muslim)," al Otaibi said. "That didn't make sense either."

A few men in the Spartan camp had been stopped at checkpoints, wearing civilian clothing and carrying grenades strapped to their bodies.

"That fits our profile for suicide bombers," said Capt. Joe Murdock, commander of the 855th Military Police Battalion. "To us, that looks like they're going to get close and pull the pin."

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(c) 2003, Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.

Iraq

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